A Dietary Hazard

by Carl Strang

Here’s another photo from last summer that was illuminated by information in Darryl T. Gwynne’s book on katydid evolution.

One of the female short-winged meadow katydid nymphs in the sweep net caught and ate a small beetle.

One of the female meadow katydid nymphs in the sweep net caught and ate a small beetle.

Gwynne pointed out that meadow katydids have broad diets that include both plant and animal foods. Carnivory results in a peculiar hazard for these katydids. Many of them pick up horsehair worms, parasites that wait in immature form within other insects, and complete their development within the katydids, killing them in the process. This can significantly reduce the number of katydids that survive to maturity. It seems to me some of the meadow katydids at Mayslake Forest Preserve have diminished abruptly in numbers at times, and this would seem to be one contributing factor.

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1 Comment

  1. Lisa Rainsong said,

    April 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    I had wondered how they became hosts for horsehair worms. Thank you for the explanation.


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